Protecting Your Home from Termites
For most Americans, our home is our single biggest investment. And with property values being what they are, it isn’t a bad one at that. There are only a few things that can come between you and your home’s appreciating value – some of which you can control and others you can’t. However, in all cases good planning and regular upkeep can mean the difference between protecting your investment and ending up homeless.
Unless you know something that we don’t, you can’t control Mother Nature. Thus, when it comes to an earthquake, fire or flood the best defense is a strong offense. A good foundation, strong structural connections and a solid preparedness plan can help lessen the devastating effects of an earthquake. The same holds true for a fire. Properly installed and well maintained smoke detectors, a safe electrical system, fire extinguishers and other fire prevention techniques can prevent having your home reduced to ashes.
Unfortunately, when it comes to rising water there isn’t as much one can do to prepare. Most flood damage results from torrential rains that cause creeks and rivers to rise, which in turn exceed the capacity of municipal storm drainage systems and threaten housing. The best you can hope for is to minimize damage with quick emergency protection.
There is one major threat to your home that can be as devastating as an earthquake, fire or flood – termites. However, the good news is that you aren’t nearly as helpless when it comes to preventing them from wreaking havoc with your home.
Termites may have been of little concern to you and your home in the past; however, there is now reason for concern. A sampling of the leading entomologists from the American Entomological Society found that due to recent weather patterns in the U.S., insect populations will be more active than in recent years. This means that there is no time like the present to have a pest management professional make an inspection to ensure that termites haven’t turned your home into the neighborhood smorgasbord.
Think that termites aren’t a problem? Think again! The following statistics are staggering and reason for anyone with a home to take prompt action.
• Termites cause more than $5 billion in damage to U.S. homes each year! There are two kinds of homes, those that have termites and those that will have termites.
• Fifty billion termites infest about one million U.S. homes (one in every 30 U.S. homes) each year.
• Termites can be hidden for 10 to 12 years before a swarm becomes visible.
• Homeowner’s insurance does NOT cover termite damage, so annual inspections are critical and far less costly.
• A small colony of approximately 60,000 termites can eat a linear foot of a 2-by-4 in about five months. Yikes!
• Several termite colonies could be present in as little as one acre of land and contain more than one million termites.
• The first step to fighting termites is to get a thorough inspection by a trained pest management professional.
• Builders can also prevent termites by treating the soil beneath the concrete slab or foundation with a termiticide.
• New less-invasive, non-repellent chemistry offers better protection by ensuring that there are no gaps in the treatment.
How do you know whether your home has termites? Termites are silent destroyers. Sadly, you may never see these behind-the-scenes workers until it is too late. Termites are sometimes visible during swarm season, when clouds of flying termites can occur both indoors and outdoors. You may also find small piles of papery wings left behind on windowsills or floors. Other warning signs include sagging floors, crumbling dry wood, tiny holes in walls or other wood surfaces and piles of sawdust-like wood residue. Bubbled paint or visible mud tubes over concrete and soil might also be signs that termites are present. Homeowners must be proactive, rather than waiting for these signs to occur.
Use the following simple tips to remain termite-free and avoid the worst kind of damage:
• Limit the supply of moisture to the foundation.
• Prevent shrubs, bushes and vines from growing over vents or touching the house. Rake, bag or burn leaves immediately.
• Wood mulch can also attract termites. When using wood mulch in a flowerbed or garden, avoid contact with siding or frames of doors and windows.
• Keep gutters free of leaves and other debris. Downspouts must drain freely and away from the house, at a distance of at least three feet.
• Do not keep wooden items close to the house. For example, firewood should be stored away from the home.
• Because termites need only the width of a piece of paper to gain access to a house, make sure that all entry points, like cracks in the foundation or utility openings, are sealed. You should also caulk windows and doors – favorite stomping grounds for termites.
• As a rule of thumb, monitor those areas of the home that are chronically damp or where wood comes in contact with the structure.
• Schedule an annual check-up or inspection with a pest management professional who is trained in detecting and destroying termites. Many termite removal companies conduct an initial inspection free of charge.
For more home improvement tips and information visit our website at www.onthehouse.com or call our live radio program at 1-800-737-2474 every Saturday, 9 AM to 1 PM EST.